Captain Nieves Fernandez, with a brand new .30 cal. M1 Carbine and a sharp bolo, shows US Army Pvt. Andrew Lupiba how she used her long knife to silently kill Japanese soldiers during the Japanese occupation of Leyte Island. Image taken by Stanley Troutman on 7 November 1944, at Mabuhay Las Piñas, Leyte Island, Philippines.
Captain Nieves Fernandez was the only known Filipino female guerrilla leader working with guerrillas south of Tacloban, Miss Fernandez rounded up native men to resist the Japanese. She commanded 110 Guerrillas who killed more than 200 Japanese with knives, bolos and shotguns made from sections of gas pipe.
“That was when they called me Captain Fernandez.” She said, “Now I am just Miss Fernandez’’ continued the thirty eight years old school teacher from Tacloban, Capt. Fernandez was barefooted, and wore a black frock as she conferred with American officers.
As a teacher before the war, she also augmented her income by starting a whole sale business. “But when the Japs came” she related “no one could keep anything, they took everything they wanted.”
Fernandez also witnessed the Japanese way of “persuading” civilians for intelligence reports through torture.
Miss Fernandez joined the guerrillas and took to the hills south of Tacloban and recruited men willing to fight the Japanese. “At first, we only had three American Enfield rifles” she said “the rest were armed with shotguns made from steel gas pipes.” All of her men however, were adept with the use of the bolo.
Soon they were arming themselves with captured weapons from the Japanese.
The Japanese offered 10.000 pesos for her head. She was wounded once. There is a bullet scar on her right forearm. (The Lewison Daily Sun, November 3, 1944)